Kyler Murray's $46 million annual salary is almost the same as the Athletics' 2022 payroll
We can finally put to bed the question of whether or not Kyler Murray made a mistake of picking football over baseball.
After Murray signed a lucrative five-year, $230.5 million contract extension with the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday, his $46.1 million annual salary was almost that of the entire 2022 payroll of the Oakland Athletics — the same team that drafted him ninth overall in 2018. Yes, the Athletics are only spending $48.5 million this season. If you only look at the 26-man roster, Murray's annual salary is actually higher by about $4.2 million.
This is laughable considering how many pundits believed Murray would regret forgoing his baseball career for one in the NFL.
When Murray announced in 2019 he was "fully committing" to playing football, sports journalist Rob Parker called Murray's decision "a colossal mistake" because of how much more money he could make in the MLB. Former Washington quarterback Joe Theismann believed Murray "would struggle in the NFL because of his 5-foot-10 frame, too. Others agreed, despite NFL quarterbacks like Russell Wilson and Tom Brady picking football over baseball careers and eventually signing huge contracts as well.
Both arguments were valid for Murray, but neither were inherently truthful, either. The average MLB salary is technically higher than the average NFL salary and that the lack of a salary cap in baseball means that someone like Mike Trout can sign a fully-guaranteed 12-year, $426 million deal, but Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen and (unfortunately) Deshaun Watson proved that quarterbacks can make just as much money in the NFL if they're among the best in the league. Watson even got his entire salary guaranteed and Wilson, whose sub-6-foot frame is similar to Murray's, signed a four-year, $140 million deal in his seventh season and could ink another large extension in the future.
Murray proved himself among that group and rightfully deserving of a $230.5 million contract with $160 million guaranteed, even after a tumultuous offseason of mixed messaging on social media. That $46.1 million annual salary also ranks second in the NFL behind only Aaron Rodgers.
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The Cardinals quarterback led his team to a 7-0 record to open the season before Arizona finished the season 9-5 and lost in the first round of the playoffs to the eventual Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams. Murray also made his second consecutive Pro Bowl after completing 69.2 percent of his passes for 3,787 passing yards, 24 touchdowns and just 10 interceptions. He also rushed for 423 yards and five touchdowns. For his career, Murray has 13,266 total yards with 70 passing touchdowns and 20 rushing touchdowns.
Murray's numbers proved the height argument wrong as well. Despite his short stature, Murray still won Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2019 and finishing top-15 in passing yards all three years of his career. He was in the MVP conversation for the first half of the 2021 season before he suffered an injury.
So despite the long-shot odds of signing a mega-deal as a 5-10 quarterback, Murray can now rest easy knowing his decision to pick football over baseball was right. Not just because of how much he'll make, but because the team that drafted him is spending just as much on their entire roster.